ANNAPOLIS – Gov. Robert Ehrlich Wednesday appointed 21 members to a newly formed physician oversight panel, replacing a previous panel that critics charged favored doctors.
Sen. Paula C. Hollinger, D-Baltimore County, sponsored the bill that abolished the State Board of Physician Quality Assurance on July 31 and established the new Maryland State Board of Physicians.
“I’m very hopeful we’re going to have something to serve the citizens and consumers well,” Hollinger said of the new board.
The board is responsible for testing and licensing physicians to practice medicine in Maryland and may revoke licenses.
Critics found fault with the old board because it tended to favor doctors and the board had to find “clear and convincing evidence” before taking disciplinary action.
The bill’s biggest opponent, The Maryland State Medical Society, held most seats on the former board and most of the cases were turned over to it for action. That system, some said, resulted in actions favorable to doctors.
“Mistakes were made, but in every situation, mistakes are made,” said Dr. Moises Z. Fraiman, a surgeon and one of five reappointees from the old board.
The legislation increased the size of the board from 15 to 21 members and added three more consumers. It also, for the first time, added a position for a physician assistant, an occupation also overseen by the board.
The bill also lowered the burden of proof the board must find to take disciplinary action.
Other returning members are Dr. Ruth A. Robinson, an osteopath; Dr. Carol Samuel-Botts, a pediatrician; Dr. Susan T. Strahan, a psychiatrist, and Dr. Samuel K. Himmelrich, a consumer with experience in risk management.
“There will be an indoctrination period with a quite a few new board members,” said Himmelrich, who served six years on the former board.
The first meeting, Sept. 24, is to be an orientation. No action is expected until at least October.
Consumer positions increased from three to six. Those board members are Himmelrich; Evelyn T. Beasley, former educator; Frank D. Boston Jr., lobbyist; Cheryl A. McCally, attorney; Harold A. Rose, who once served on the old board, and David B. Swoap, a government affairs consultant.
“When medical questions arise, consumers are at a disadvantage, but consumers can make decisions on behavior and morality,” said Himmelrich.
“I hope the new board with the new consumer positions will give the public confidence,” said Dr. Harry C. Knipp, a radiologist. “People should be proud of the medical care in Maryland.”
“I hope to have an impact on the board regarding the oversight of doctors particularly in the area of the older citizens of America,” said Dr. F. Michael Gloth III, a geriatrician on the Maryland State Advisory Council on Pain Management. “We have a marvelous opportunity to improve the quality of patient care.”
In addition to Gloth and Knipp, Dr. Habib A. Bhutta, surgeon; Dr. Paul T. Elder, anesthesiologist; Dr. J. Ramsay Farah, pediatrician; Dr. Paul R. Fleury, internal medicine; Dr. Robert G. Hennessy, surgeon; Dr. Nallan C. Ramakrishna, cardiologist; Dr. Anil Sanghera, psychiatrist; Dr. Frank M. Calia, vice dean and professor at the University of Maryland, and Theresa C. Rohrs, physician assistant, are all new to the board.
Board members serve four-year terms with a limit of two terms and the board chairman and other officers will be elected at the first meeting.